In UK cinemas from this Friday is the brilliant comedy-drama The Big Sick. Taking its inspiration from the story of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, the film is an autobiographic tale of love found and nearly lost in the Big Apple, and is, quite simply, one of the best and loveliest comedies of the year so far.
We caught up with one of the film’s stars, Holly Hunter, to talk about the film.
What attracted you to the material?
The chance to work with Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel, who have a certain pedigree — there’s a touch of class in the movies they make, but they’re also funny. It was also Kumail and Emily’s story, an inside track into something that really happened, told in a way that felt very genuine. It’s a love story, but it goes beyond Kumail and Emily. There are other love stories, between Kumail and Emily’s parents, Kumail and his job. I liked the fact that there was more than one love story going on over the course of the movie.
Your character Beth Gardner is quiet and reserved at first, but over time unfolds and even explodes. Can you talk about developing your character?
Well, she spends a lot of the movie in the hospital — almost the entire second act, so (a variety of) obstacles came out of that. Hospitals are stressful places. This is a woman who is essentially waiting to find out if her child is going to live or die, so she goes through a wide range of emotions during the movie.
There is so much great chemistry among the characters in this movie. Where does that come from?
It isn’t always about chemistry, although we had it. We had a lot of rehearsal time before we filmed, and that helped a lot — we had this wonderful space to get to know each other and work together so when production started we were ready, we had that closeness.
Were you familiar with Kumail Nanjiani’s work prior to production, and what are your thoughts on his style of comedy?
I wasn’t familiar with his work but what stood out for me were the quiet, thoughtful moments in his stand-up work, there’s something fragile and warm about him. He’s humble and sincere.
Describe the dynamic between your character and her husband Terry, played by Ray Romano.
Beth and Terry have this lived-in quality even though they’ve gone through some difficulties in their marriage. They’ve been together for 30 years. But they also have this tremendous openness with their daughter (played by Zoe Kazan), which in the movie brings them closer together.
The closeness between Beth and Emily is especially poignant…
Yes, and it’s there from the beginning, these are two people who share everything. It felt very natural that Beth would put so much emotion into her daughter’s well-being both in and out of the hospital. They’re as close as two people can be.
Was it refreshing to work in the comedy world again, having worked so memorably with James L. Brooks in BROADCAST NEWS?
I had not done a comedy in a while, although I recently did a TV project with comedic elements. It felt nice to return to the comedy world. Ray and Kumail come from the stand-up world, which is a different kind of comedy, one that was new to me, with its specific timing and set of rules, but I was happy to do another comedy.
Writer Credit: Andrew Bailey
THE BIG SICK is in cinemas nationwide on July 28th